Turkey and human rights: in rags and tatters

Things are getting into a mess.

And it has just one reason:

The AKP started out as an actor for fundamental democratic change, challenging the oppressive state. But then they turned the tables, getting rid of and slamming people who called spade a spade and with whom they had joined forces; now, they are on their way integrating with the “core” or the deeper structures of the state – both in terms of philosophy and discourse.

What we are dealing with now is a state party that is moving towards the creation of a party state.

Gathering male village headmen at the “palace” in Beştepe, President Erdoğan started at some point to talk about Kobani and he made use of a strange metaphor, saying, “Today they” –meaning the Kurds– “are out there hopping and dancing with joy.”

He was being sarcastic while thousands of Kurds in Suruç wanted to cross the border back to their hometown, but were met with a feast of tear gas.

On top of that, Erdoğan gave an interview yesterday and clarified his position on Rojava:

“We don’t want another Iraq. What is this? Northern Iraq… And now let them create a Northern Syria! There is now way we can accept it.”

Then he bluntly said, addressing the HDP, “If you remain under the 10 percent threshold you will be left out of the peace talks.”

He is holding tight at the 10 percent election threshold, which is a classic of the September 12 military intervention.

“… For one thing, it is crucial for the stability of our country. There has never been a growth in periods of coalition governments; there were always downfalls. Likewise, our stability here at this stage lies in the 10 percent threshold.”

Now there you see the unbearable comfort of being a state party.

And you wouldn’t expect the appointed Prime Minister Davutoğlu to sit about, would you? So he attacked the Cumhuriyet daily, which dared publishing an interview with Celal Kara, prosecutor of the December 17 investigation. Apparently the Prime Minister forgot that true democracy’s –the democracy to which he used to be loyal– touchstone is to be accountable to the electorate.

But that was not enough for him. He described the Cumhuriyet daily as “You know, the paper that published the cartoons insulting the venerable Prophet,” and raised the standard:

“This is the alliance we are struggling with. All forces of evil, hand in hand!”

It’s like we are on a journey with a flying carpet!

You may not like their interpretive line, but one of the most established and independent member of our press is condemned for an excellent piece of journalism, and in the meantime, the AKP government’s disastrous actions is being bitterly criticized by 20 of the 54 countries taking part in the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review meeting in Geneva.

The X-ray image is wretched

Participatory countries list their criticisms within boundaries of diplomatic courtesy:

· Freedoms of expression are in danger.

· There is huge pressure on the media; self-censorship is rampant.

· The Internet is suffocating.

· Rights of assembly and demonstrations are in ruin.

· The police have vicious ways of using disproportionate force; they are violent.

· Thousand of children are working in unregulated mines.

· There is no right of conscientious objection.

· Judicial independence is about to come to an end.

· There is a slide towards unity of power.

· Child marriages and the killing of women still continue.

· Minority and LGBT rights are not observed.

· Etc.

In the face of which Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınçmakes a hilarious defense. One wonders “ whether a minister assigned by the military regime of September 12 is talking”…

An NGO member with whom we were watching the meeting makes a joke, saying, “It makes you think of Alice’s Wonderland, it makes you want to move there.”

Arınç thinks everything is okay. He thinks the media is pluralistic; LGBTs, women and children are fully safeguarded; and there are no minorities other than those determined by the Lausanne Treaty! Police helmets have numbers on them in case they use disproportionate force! Twitter and stuff have been blocked “as a measure of last resort,” lest personal rights be violated! In Turkey there has never been an issue of anti-Semitism and the like!

As the bitter parody goes on, Human Rights Foundation of Turkey calls for the revoke of the Domestic Security Package sent to the Parliament. The Foundation states that the package is, “Beyond totalitarianism: It is tyranny, a mode of rule seen in pre-modern times.”

The AKP is now a state party.

This is no joke.

Things are getting into a mess.

About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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